Choosing identities: the politics and practices of classroom discourse on reproductive and genetic technologies
Murphy, Padraig (2007) Choosing identities: the politics and practices of classroom discourse on reproductive and genetic technologies. PhD thesis, Dublin City University.
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In this thesis, I draw on contemporary social theory, media communication studies and discourse analysis to explore how micro-political discussions around identity and new reproductive and genetic technologies (NRGTs) in classroom discussions may be connected to wider discourses. Although biotechnology in Ireland is represented by industry and the healthcare sector as a solution to dsease, Irish public opinion, as well as global discourses from popular culture, literature and film, suggests these technologies may represent a scientific or moral threat to humanity or nature. When biotechnology is raised in biology classrooms, identity is central, as existential questions about the essence of humanity are combined with future visions through genetic screeningtengineering and cloning. Yet science curricula and pedagogy in Ireland rarely opens out to address these perspectives on genes and embryos.
Six schools with students aged from 15-17 years were presented with two central activities that brought social and moral relevance to NRGTs. Films were used to present reproductive decision scenarios @re-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) and stem cell research), while a visiting health researcher presented on how his work related to society. Participants argued points of view based on the film. Ethnographic notes were taken and discussions recorded.
The thesis argues that Giddens' (1991) life politics emerges in how young people bring into discourse ideas about scientific progress, nature, agency, and the body through structured framing strategies of communication and local performed action. In addition to interpreting these, the thesis examines how pedagogic practices may respond to, and take part in, such discursive strategies.
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